Downtown Transit Center Design open for bidding

For years, Indianapolis has suffered from the lack of a central gathering site for all of it’s routes which travel through the downtown area. Currently, all routes make a loop through downtown, informally known as the corral, where the sidewalks act as defacto  transit centers.

IndyGo Transit Center site location (image source: bidding document)
IndyGo Transit Center site location (image source: bidding document)

The stops are difficult to figure out and transfers can be troublesome based upon where one needs to get off a bus and catch another. Additionally, pedestrian mobility is reduced due to the large amount of people who wait on the sidewalks. Prior studies have singled out the Post Office on South Street as a potential transit center. The 2010 IndyGo COA advocated for a location other than South Street. Furthermore, the COA advised that bundling the transit center with a commercial or mixed use structure would add even more benefit. I wrote about the COA’s transit center analysis last year.

So, it was a relief when the IBJ reported earlier this year, that a new site had been selected for the future transit center. Although the article (which requires subscription to read) points out that the site selection is not finalized, it indicated that a consensus seems to be forming around a surface parking lot south and across Washington Street from the City County building.

IndyGo Transit Center Site Plan Concept (image source: bidding document)
IndyGo Transit Center Site Plan Concept (image source: bidding document)

Last week, IndyGo opened bidding for the design of the downtown transit center and in a 14 page report (click here to open .pdf), indicates that the lot called for in the IBJ article is indeed the preferred site for the center.  The report takes a long view of transit planning in soliciting the transit center’s design. The Indy Connect plan is held up as one of the guiding principals for bus routing which will be modified to compliment the new transit center. Additionally, the Central Corridors BRT are included in the document and asks how those buses would interface the transit center. Funding is pegged at $16.5 million with the majority coming from a Federal Congressional earmark. The current boarding area at Ohio Street is one of the primary points to be addressed with the new center as that waiting area will likely disappear. The last bullet also gives a nod to area redevelopment and singles out the former Market Square site as a potential benefactor of a new transit center at this location.

IndyGo Transit Center Architectural Concept (image source: bidding document)
IndyGo Transit Center Architectural Concept (image source: bidding document)

Design is addressed in a number of slides too. Similar structures in other cities are held up as architectural models of successful transit centers. Indeed, the last page has a rendering of the area created by Eden Collaborative which paints the picture of an iconic structure which interfaces with the southern plaza of the city county building. If such a structure could be realized at this location, it would surely receive high praise locally and nationally as an architectural success.

The bidding process is scheduled to wrap up by December 10th at which point design seems likely to move forward. It is important to note that the designs laid out in the report are only guidelines and the contractor chosen will work to create the final design that will be built. In an email, IndyGo President and CEO Mike Terry said,

“The conceptual design provided in the presentation material is not the final design, but used to illustrate the opportunity to think differently about the use and location for this transit facility and how it can be a positive influence on the development of that part of the city including public/green space, mixed use development adjacent and improved mobility.”

Urban Indy is excited to see this facility finally moving towards fruition. We have debated local transit improvements at length and whether or not dedicated transit funding is granted by state legislative action in the coming session, it appears that this transit center will move forward with funding already dedicated to it’s design & construction.

Comments 15

  • This will be a VERY interesting design process. We have some visionary folks in important positions at the City right now (including the former head of Eden Collaborative who will take over as head of DMD on Monday) who will hopefully be able to pull off the funding an iconic design.

  • Looks good so far. I love that the south plaza of the CCB looks to be reconfigured, which is much needed.

  • I thought there were $30 million earmarked from the Feds (vs. $11.5) for this project. Anyway, I’m glad this is finally happening. Although I am not a fan of “Bilbao effect” (i.e. to expect that every new building breaks barriers), in this case, I hope the final design inspires.

    • JP, I don’t think there was ever as much as $30 million dollars earmarked from the federal government for the transit center, rather that has been previously stated as the amount of the budget for the whole project.

      But, there was originally more federal funding than currently allocated. Unfortunately, the city took too long to move forward with designing and building the transit center so it lost some of the federal funding for the project. I believe the city lost $2.8 million dollars in federal funds because of the delays.

      • I looked it up, and it seems that the transit center project has been set to receive $28 million, including about $5 million set aside as a local match for the federal grants. Because of delays, Feds cut half of $23 million that had been originally earmarked by late Julia Carson.
        The good news is that IndyGo recently won $10 million from FTA to buy new buses.

      • No, Indy lost 16 million by dragging it’s feet. The money the Feds pulled was given to other cities, probably cities that showed even a modest interest mass transit.

  • Indianapolis needs an iconic design I agree with that.

  • TOD should be considered. You can still use it even when it’s only buses.

  • Indianapolis needs an iconic design…especially to contrast the City County box! I believe it’s the perfect location for design.

  • Great, I guess…. A central terminal makes sense to a degree; however, the money would be better spent gearing toward the future (i.e. central light rail/bus terminal).

    Indy could follow the lead of other cities with mass transit systems by strategically placing sub station in around the most traveled areas. To have all the buses corral downtown never made much sense logistically or financially. By placing sub stations or connecting points in places such as Castleton, the airport, Washington Square area (etc) would ultimately shorten commute times, and increase the efficiency of the transit system. Not to mention if Indy ever develops a rail system all of the connecting points will be in put place for such expansion…

  • “The current boarding area at Ohio Street is one of the primary points to be addressed with the new center as that waiting area will likely disappear. ”

    Does this mean that the Ohio Street boarding area will no longer be needed, or that it is going to have to move because of something unrelated to the transit center?

  • Indianaopolis will be left behind if we don’t meet rail needs. Many cities will surpass us if we are not careful.

  • Wasn’t this location considered the best site of the proposed justice facility given the underground tunnels between the jail and the CCB? I know that it’s too late to question location but I’m just curious where that might be located in the future given this development. And does this increase the cost?

  • This site has been earmarked for a new justice facility for at least the last twenty years, if not longer. Funding has always been an issue. Someone explain to me why this is a good location for a bus transit center. The best location is near Union Station along South Street to provide inter-modal connectivity with future rail transit. Where would a new justice center be located?

  • I’m all for expanding transit in Indianapolis and building a new transit center. But, for heaven’s sake, why right there? It’s a few blocks away from the major railway bridge (if the Green Line gets built and it relies on existing rail lines), and it’s right next to the Marion County Jail…which, I’m sure, is not a comforting thought for people riding on transit lines late at night.

    We already have a transit center that’s not being fully utilized: Union Station. It’s in a great location right in the middle of everything. It’s a beautiful historic landmark that has been neglected. It can connect people to Greyhound and Amtrak in addition to the local transit system — even if that system adds rail. It can house retail and food (because it has a history of doing just that).

    Obviously there would need to be somee substantial renovations not only in terms of restoration but also a retrofit to make it easier for people to connect to all the different buses, but would that be anymore expensive than building a whole new transit center from scratch in a non-ideal location?

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